Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Friday, May 20, 2005

Jewish Journal: AIPAC Flouts Power in Light of Spy Scandal

The Jewish Journal Of Greater Los Angeles: "AIPAC Will Focus on Policy at Gathering

by Ron Kampeas and Matthew E. Berger, Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Inside the massive Washington Convention Center, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be talking about the Gaza Strip withdrawal and the Iranian nuclear threat.

However, in the hallways and the social gatherings of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference next week, talk is likely to focus on the investigation into two former AIPAC staffers and the effect it could have on AIPAC’s ability to lobby for Israel.

AIPAC will be tasked with keeping its members focused on the important issues facing Israel and maintaining support in Congress if the Gaza pullout, planned for this summer, goes awry. The effort to keep attention focused on Iran’s presumed drive for nuclear weapons is also high on its agenda.

The organization is still perceived as a “behemoth,” congressional officials say, and will be taken seriously when it meets May 22-24 — but a cloud will linger over the proceedings.

“You deal with them as you would normally deal with them,” one congressional staffer said. He compared it to a friend who has a health problem: You don’t talk about the problem, and you hope that it resolves itself quickly.

There are two traditional success markers to an AIPAC policy conference. One is a roll call of members of Congress, diplomats and administration officials attending the Monday night dinner — last year there were nearly 200, including more than 40 senators — and the other is a lobbying day Tuesday, when thousands of AIPAC members descend on Capitol Hill.

How many lawmakers turn up Monday night and how the lobbyists fare Tuesday will be closely watched by the organization, its supporters and its critics. Some insiders, who asked not to be identified, say there may be apprehension about working with AIPAC, because of the FBI probe.

“I think most members of Congress and staffers who are invited to meet with AIPAC constituents and go to the dinner will still go,” a congressional aide said. “But I’m convinced, in the back of everybody’s mind, there is a kernel of concern and doubt that maybe we shouldn’t be playing ball with AIPAC the way we always have.”

AIPAC’s problems stem from an FBI investigation into Lawrence Franklin, a Pentagon analyst arrested earlier this month and accused of verbally passing classified information to Steve Rosen, AIPAC’s research director, and Keith Weissman, a top Iran analyst at AIPAC.

AIPAC fired both men last month, and Rosen associates tell JTA he expects to be indicted. AIPAC officials claim that they have been assured the probe is not targeting the organization or any other staffers.

“Nobody knows what the implications of this legal situation are,” a congressional staffer said. “It could be a blip, and AIPAC has had blips before.”

AIPAC has gone to great lengths to stress its bona fides, publicizing Rice, Sharon and other scheduled speakers, including leaders of both congressional chambers from both parties. Sharon’s presence is considered particularly significant. Israeli prime ministers rarely travel to the United States if they don’t have an audience with the president.

Sharon is expected to meet with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York before heading to Washington, but has planned no political meetings, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington said. Sharon also is expected to be welcomed in New York at a rally Sunday, a measure of American Jewish support for the disengagement plan.

“Prime Minister Sharon is coming to stand with the American pro-Israel community at a crucial moment in the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” AIPAC spokesman Andrew Schwartz said.

AIPAC also is boasting about attendance at the conference, which is expected to top 5,000 people, including nearly 1,000 students.

Such self-promotion is unusual for the organization, which generally feels it can be most effective if it keeps its achievements behind the scenes. In the past, major speakers have not been confirmed until the week before the conference, and officials play down the expected attendance, instead of talking it up.

AIPAC officials insist that this year’s conference is business as usual, though they referred questions to Patrick Dorton, a Washington publicist whose experience in scandal management includes shepherding accounting giant Arthur Andersen.

“We’re promoting the policy conference the same way we’ve done it in years past,” Dorton said. “AIPAC continues to be proud of the work it does on behalf of its membership.”

A source close to AIPAC said Howard Kohr, the group’s executive director, will touch on the investigation briefly in a speech to delegates Sunday, but mostly will focus on AIPAC’s policy agenda.

The organization has real work to do. Topping its agenda will be preparing Congress for the Israeli withdrawal. The lobby is preparing a letter for lawmakers to send to President Bush, underscoring how the United States should support the peace process. Bush already has expressed interest in assisting Israel in the development of the Negev Desert and the Galilee, the regions likeliest to absorb some 9,000 settlers from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Israel has suggested that resettlement costs could run as high as $3.5 billion.

AIPAC will be charged with laying the groundwork for pushing through any additional aid packages. In addition to direct aid, that could mean new U.S. loan guarantees for Israel.

It will be important for AIPAC to show that it backs the disengagement plan, especially since it has a hawkish reputation in Washington. A draft of the group’s action agenda, which will be debated in executive committee at the conference, calls for supporting the “U.S. government’s backing” of the plan, rather than the plan itself. Officials said that was in keeping with the group’s philosophy of lobbying the U.S. government, not trying to influence Israeli policy.

In a twist, the disengagement plan could soon pit AIPAC against a traditional ally — Christian evangelicals, including several prominent lawmakers, who believe the disengagement violates biblical precepts and offers Palestinian terrorists a triumph. Dovish groups welcomed the tilt.

“It’s very significant that AIPAC intends to adopt formal policy language that embraces disengagement, and specifically the Bush administration’s endorsement of disengagement,” said Lewis Roth, assistant executive director of Americans for Peace Now.

Disengagement opponents said they won’t try to scuttle AIPAC’s support for the plan, which they believe is inevitable. Instead, they’ll try to ensure that any resolutions reflect the trauma it will impose on settlers.

Morton Klein, Zionist Organization of America president, said language should refer to the evacuation of thousands of “women and children from Gaza” and the northern West Bank “by force if necessary, and abandoning Jewish homes, schools and synagogues where Jews have been living for 35 years.”

Klein plans to continue protesting the plan but has pledged not to lobby against U.S. funding related to it.

As usual, the conference will see some protests. A coalition of right-wing Jewish groups are coordinating buses from New York to Washington, and plan to sleep outside the Convention Center in tents, simulating Gaza settlers who will be expelled from their homes under the withdrawal plan. The Council for National Interest, a pro-Arab group, also will protest, claiming undue Israeli influence in American foreign policy.

AIPAC is not shutting out disengagement dissenters. Natan Sharansky, who resigned recently from Israel’s Cabinet because he believes the time is not ripe for the withdrawal, will speak Sunday night. The former Soviet dissident was expected to speak of democratic ideals, not disengagement.

Another crucial plank at the conference is backing for the Iran Freedom Support bill, a measure to strengthen sanctions against Iran by penalizing foreign countries that invest in Iran’s energy sector and to provide funding to democratic groups in the Islamic republic.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), codifies much of what already is in the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, but includes a provision that would notify investors if a fund they own has shares in a company that is subject to sanctions. The goal is to create an investor backlash against companies that deal with Iran.

AIPAC also will focus on the Iranian nuclear threat. Delegates will learn about the nuclear fuel cycle and how Iran appears to be seeking a nuclear bomb.

The lobby will continue to stress the annual passage of foreign aid. This year’s aid package includes $2.28 billion in military aid for Israel and $240 million in economic assistance, as well as $150 million for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

Dar Al Hayat: Ayoon Wa Azan ("The Mother of all Smokescreens")

Dar Al Hayat: "Ayoon Wa Azan ("The Mother of all Smokescreens")
Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2005/05/20

In front of me is the report of charges against Laurence Franklin, the official from the Iran Bureau at the Pentagon; he was accused of spying for Israel. The report includes 23 points or paragraphs; not one refers to the names of Israel's representatives and agents, with whom Franklin was dealing.

The story's background has become known. In June 2003, Franklin, who was working with Douglas Faith, the third man at the Pentagon, went to Tivoli restaurant in Arlington, near Washington, D.C., where he met with Naor Gilon, the political commissioner at the Israeli embassy; Steve Rosen, the Political director at AIPAC and Keith Weissman, the AIPAC expert on Iranian issues, and revealed the content of a document, dated June 25th and marked as "Top Secret".

What Franklin did not know was that the FBI had its eyes on Israel's agents for months and years and that the restaurant was bugged. What a surprise it must have been for the FBI agents to catch an agent, who was not even a target.

APAC expelled Rosen and Weissman; the report does not refer to any of them by name, but only as "American citizen 1" and "American Citizen 2". The word Israel is no where to be found, despite the Israeli embassy's declaration, after the scandal, that Naor Gilon will return to Israel after 3 years of working in Washington, without continuing the fourth year of his representative mission like his predecessors.

How could this be? The reader might imagine the pressure exerted by the Neo Conservatives in Israel's gang, against the FBI, with its men and women (the report was signed by FBI agent Katherine Hana). I read an explanation on the importance of striking out reference to Israel and its spies in the report. In short, had AIPAC and Israel appeared in the affidavit, that might be grounds to make AIPAC register as a lobbyst for a foreign agent or government, affecting its legal status. Furthermore, it could have been used in Congress to follow up espionage operations by Israel. The reader might imagine: had Franklin been disclosing information to a Muslim charity, what id the probability that its name would be in the supporting affidavit? What kind of treatment the organization and its employees would have received ? How accusations of terrorism or aiding terrorism would have been immediately unleashed?

Failing to mention Israel and AIPAC means that Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman from California, and other pillars of the state, will not bother to attend AIPAC's annual meeting, scheduled this month between 22 and 24. Personally, I wish Dr. Rice could reconsider her decision to address the meeting, since she will be among a group bearing loyalty to Israel and not the U.S., spying on the latter, and damaging American interests worldwide.

The FBI said that Franklin was put under surveillance after that lunch; ultimately his house was searched and 83 documents were found, among which there were 38 "Top Secret" documents, 37 "Secret" documents, and 8 "Prohibited" documents. The reader might have noticed at the beginning that Franklin delivered the document, dated 25th June, on the 26th , i.e. all the documents he received were immediately transferred to Israel's spies and agents and the apologists, who cover up the crimes of Ariel Sharon's government.

There will be a preliminary hearing on the 27th of the current month. Investigations will also include a large number of administration officials. This explains the break out of accusations against the FBI. These accusations come from Israel's supporters and Neo Cons in general; the charge is, of course, "antisemtism".

Franklin worked under Faith who founded the Office of Special Plans to make up accusations that led the U.S. to the war after the known intelligence services failed to produce the needed evidence. The office was run by Abram Shulsky, a disciple of Rochard Pearl; all information-gathering operations were run by Wiliam Lotti. Paul Wolfowitz, the second man in the Pentagon, was the first administration official to find out that Al Qaeda attacked the US by a horrifying terrorism, thus demanded that Iraq be attacked.

If the blood of 100,000 Iraqi is cheap, then I accuse all the persons I mentioned of premeditated lying to induce the U.S. into an unjustifiable war, in which more than 1600 Americans were killed, As I request tp put them on trial them for treason and mass murder.

Frankly, I do not expect Franklin's trial to end up on sentencing Israel's spies, since a thousand similar cases were reduced to nil. Should Jonathen Pollard not have been stupid enough to boast about his espionage work for Israel while at the U.S. Navy, his case would have been put away like many others. Then, I could have said that no spy for Israel was ever convicted.

I write, while having in front of me a document titled "the Mother of All Scandals". The document keeps track of Israel's espionage action in the US since 1947, i.e. before it even existed. There are some well-known cases, yet several others came about without publicity; I may get back to tackle them someday. According to official American reports, Israel was the country that spied the most on the US, after the USSR.

Today, I conclude bypaying tribute to George Galloway, the British MP from RESPECT. I completely disagree with him with regards to his support to Saddam and their friendship. However, I agree with every word he said in his address to the Senate's investigation sub-committee. Galloway accused the committee, George Bush and Tony Blair, and held everyone responsible for the war, which led to the killing of more than 1600 American. He said that the committee's work is "the Mother of All Smokescreens" to divert attention away from the crime that has been perpetrated against Iraq.

I support George Galloway's words and believe that he deserves the tribute of every Arab and Muslim in the world for his bravery in upholding the rightful truth."

Right Web | Analysis | Natan Sharansky and George W. Bush: The Likud Plot to Co-opt American Foreign Policy

Right Web | Analysis | Natan Sharansky and George W. Bush: The Foreign Policy Diaspora�From Jerusalem to Washington: "

Natan Sharansky and George W. Bush
The Foreign Policy Diaspora—From Jerusalem to Washington
By Tom Barry | February 8, 2005

The State of the Union Address and Bush’s second Inaugural Address focused U.S. and international attention on Natan Sharansky, author of The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror. Pundits and reporters noted that the president’s lofty rhetoric about “ending tyranny in our world” and guaranteeing “freedom from fear” echoed Sharansky’s language.

In his book Sharansky makes that case that U.S. foreign policy should be guided at least as much by ideals as national interests. Part of that idealism should be a mission to export freedom to countries and societies living in fear, focusing primarily on the Arab world.1 According to Sharansky, the United States should not only prevent terrorist and terrorist states from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, but should also “understand how powerful weapons of mass construction can be in the hands of the free world.”

No doubt that Bush and Sharansky, a Soviet émigré who is a top political official in Israel, share a similar perspective about international affairs, especially in the Middle East. Following his Inaugural Address, the president said that Sharansky’s book confirmed what he already believed and that the Israeli author’s thinking was “part of my presidential DNA.”2

“If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy read Natan Sharansky’s book,” the president told the Washington Times in an exclusive interview in January 2005. Bush, who invited Sharansky to the White House shortly after his reelection, received galleys of the book from Tom Bernstein. A New York developer who was a financial partner with Bush in the Texas Rangers, Bernstein recently founded the International Freedom Center, which is planning a museum that will be constructed at ground zero in lower Manhattan.3

Most media reports describe Sharansky mainly as a former Soviet dissident turned political philosopher, identifying him in one article as the “intellectual godfather” of Bush’s advocacy of a “global democratic revolution.” Largely missing from the reports and discussion about Sharansky’s intellectual influence in shaping Bush’s administration’s commitment to spreading freedom and democracy is an examination of the Israeli government minister’s own political agenda in Israel and in the United States.

From “Prisoner of Zion” to Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs
According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the 1970s Sharansky engaged “in underground Zionist activities” until his 1977 arrest by Soviet authorities on charges of treason and espionage. Although the U.S. government denied any connection between Sharansky and the CIA, he was sentenced in 1978 to 13 years imprisonment. An international campaign, supported by Presidents Carter and Reagan, led to Sharansky’s release on February 11, 1986 as part of an East-West spy exchange. That same night the self-described “Prisoner of Zion” arrived in Israel, where he quickly became the leading voice for the cause of Soviet Jewry.

In 1988 Sharansky founded and became the first president of the Zionist Forum. In 1995 Sharansky formed a political party to represent new Jewish immigrants to Israel. Always closely allied with Likud, particularly its most extreme factions, the Yisrael B’Aliya party no longer maintains its own independence and has effectively merged with Likud.

A longtime member of the Knesset, Sharansky has held a wide range of cabinet posts including Interior Minister, Housing and Construction Minister, and Industry and Trade Minister. Sharansky served as Deputy Prime Minister from March 2001 to February 2003, when he broke with Sharon over plans to withdraw Israeli settlers from the occupied Gaza Strip. Sharansky, who continues to oppose any concessions to the Palestinians, insists there should be “no territory for terror.” 4

Upon resigning as deputy prime minister, Sharansky was appointed Minister for Jerusalem Affairs and the Diaspora as part of a deal in which his Yisrael B’Aliya became a branch of the ruling Likud party. 5

Sharansky is founding member and current chairman of One Jerusalem, which has one objective: “Saving a united Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel.” Among other activities, One Jerusalem provides “essential information about the destruction of Jewish artifacts in sacred places like Temple Mount.” Other prominent U.S. cofounders of One Jerusalem include outgoing Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and David Steinmann, who is chairman of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and a board member of the Center for Security Policy. 6

Dore Gold, also a cofounder of One Jerusalem, is top Likud deputy and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. Referring to Sharansky’s influential role in shaping U.S. policy, Gold said: “Sharansky has a very powerful moral voice because he was a prisoner of Zion.” 7

Sharansky shares the Israeli government’s conviction that the entire city of Jerusalem is the country’s capital. Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, and have since steadfastly refused to release it to the Palestinians, despite repeated UN resolutions declaring Israel in violation of international law. The Palestinian Authority claim East Jerusalem and would like to make it the capital of the proposed Palestinian state.

For Sharansky, the accusation that the views of some pro-Israel policy advocates are clouded by their dual loyalty to both Israel and the United States misses the fundamental truth about the Jewish diaspora. “I see the Jewish world as one,” said Sharansky, “those who are living and those who are not yet living in Israel. It is part of the same body of people who left Egypt 3000 years ago, and they are on their way to the land of Israel.” For this reason, Sharansky says that the Israeli government must be closely involved in the problems of the Jews in the diaspora. “In fact,” he said, “on my initiative was created a special government committee on relations with the diaspora, and I’m chairman all these years.” 8

In his role as Diaspora Minister, Sharansky travels throughout the United States and authorizes government funding to establish pro-Israel groups on U.S. campuses. “Israel has few strategic assets as critical as American Jewry,” according to the Israeli minister. “The fact that the world’s leading superpower is a steadfast ally of Israel is due in large measure to this proud and activist community.”

Sharansky charges that Middle East studies departments at U.S. universities have adopted a vehemently anti-Israel posture due to “years of massive investments of money and effort by Arab states and the Palestinians.” As the product of “generous Saudi funding,” university departments have “been set up…to establish pseudo-scientific theories, presenting Israel as the last colonial state, whose very existence is immoral regardless of borders.”

To counter this Arab conspiracy, Sharansky intends to “recapture the campus” with “a concentrated effort” and change in direction in “Israel’s informational efforts.” 9 Sharansky has also established, by way of the government’s Israel Citizens Information Council, the Hasbara Program, which sponsors an information program for Jews living outside Israel. As part of the Hasbara campaign, “We are trying to be sure that on every campus there will be a critical mass that will be able to stand up and be counted to defend Israel.” Sharansky helped establish the World Congress of Jewish activists, which sponsors training programs in Jerusalem for students around the world, including U.S. high school students. The trainees are taught “how to defend Israel.” 10

The Israeli minister says that his work on U.S. campuses counts on the strong backing of Prime Minister Sharon. But the Israeli government is not alone in this effort. “I’m working with the AIPAC [American-Israeli Political Affairs Committee], Hillel of course, and Caravan for Democracy, Friends of Likud as well as supporters of the Likud Movement,” explained Sharansky.

As Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Sharansky advocates the “ingathering of Jews” in Israel. In a letter published by the Israel Citizens Information Council, a project of his ministry, Sharansky wrote: “In Israel there is no such thing as an ‘ordinary citizen.’ This country consists largely of immigrants, but immigrants only in the sense that they were born someplace else, just to return home, to Israel, later. The community we have created—a diverse, vibrant and growing democracy—is best represented by its citizens.” 11 Sharansky describes himself as “the representative of the government and people of Israel to the Jewish world.” 12

Sharansky is also the chairman of The Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism, a government forum that brings together various government ministries, including its foreign ministry and information center, together with various Jewish organizations including the World Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The government-sponsored forum commits “Israel as the Jewish state” to protect “the security of Jewish communities around the world” and to “eradicate all anti-Jewish activity.”

Speaking in the capacity of chairman of the anti-Semitism forum, Sharansky warned that under the veil of “political criticism of Israel” lurks discrimination against the State of Israel to which a double standard is applied, and doubts are cast regarding its very right to exist.”

Sharansky frequently generalizes about the character and mission of Jews, whether living in Israel or members of the diaspora. Sharansky, for example, stated: “We Jews are strong on history and being logical and believing in moral principles, so it’s very important every Jew should choose himself or herself as an ambassador of his people and of his country.” 13

When the U.S. media reported that in August 2004 that the FBI had been investigating clandestine information-sharing meetings involving a Pentagon official working for Douglas Feith, Israeli intelligence officials, and representatives of the American-Israeli Political Affairs Committee, Sharansky was the Israeli government official who publicly denied the allegations of spying. Sharansky suggested the criminal investigation was the result of a U.S. government interagency “rivalry,” singling out “the Pentagon and the CIA.”

The Neoconservative Connection
President Bush is not the first president to give Sharansky a personal audience. After he was released from prison in the Soviet Union, Sharansky met with President Ronald Reagan—one the three men that Sharansky credits for ending the “evil empire.” Sharansky told the Weekly Standard that in addition to President Reagan the other two men who form his trinity of heroes are Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov (for whom Sharansky served as a translator) and Henry “Scoop” Jackson. Senator Jackson led the Cold Warrior wing of the Democratic Party, and he also was the leading congressional supporter of Israel. Many of today’s most prominent neocons, including Richard Perle of the American Enterprise Institute and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, worked on Jackson’s staff. 14

For his part, Perle, a leading neoconservative who has advised the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party, boasts that “Scoop Jackson” and Natan Sharansky are his two personal heroes. 15

In his book Sharansky describes U.S. policy as a continuum involving many of his closest friends and collaborators in the United States, including Abrams, Perle, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, outgoing Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, and Cheney’s chief of staff “Scooter” Libby. “If you check their background, most of them were connected either to Senator Jackson or to the Reagan administration, or both,” wrote Sharansky.

In the United States, Sharansky is a frequent guest at neoconservative institutions, especially the American Enterprise Institute. Although he resists any political labeling aside from “Zionist,” his writing and speeches are laden with the political terminology and frameworks of the neocons, including such terms as “moral clarity,” “appeasement,” and “totalitarianism.” In his writings in Commentary and other neoconservative publications, Sharansky rejects the attempts to establish a “moral equivalence” (another stock neocon term) between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Referring to the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Sharansky in a speech to an April 2002 pro-Israel rally in Washington said: “Equating good and evil is an evil itself….We cannot accept moral equivalence between those who see human bodies as a shield for terrorists, and those for whom human rights are the highest value.” 16 Paralleling Bush’s own description of international affairs as a divide between good and evil, and those who are fighting terrorism and those who are supporting it, Sharansky writes in his book that the world is “divided between those who are prepared to confront evil and those who are willing to appease it.”

President Bush first began expressing a new idealism in U.S. foreign policy in speeches at the American Enterprise Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in late 2003. Although Sharansky was also talking about the urgent need for U.S.-led democratization initiative in the Middle East, too much can be made of Sharansky’s influence. Since the early 1980s U.S. neoconservatives have been steadfast advocates that U.S. foreign policy must combine the hard side of military intervention with the soft side of public diplomacy and free-market democratization.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the birth of NED, President Bush in a November 2003 speech delivered at the NED headquarters reaffirmed the U.S. government’s role as international provocateur in a “global democratic revolution.” Bush promised to double NED’s budget to allow it to take the “world democratic movement” to the Middle East—the region targeted by the U.S. government as the focus of its “forward strategy of freedom.”

Sharansky’s vision of having Washington lead coalitions to end tyrannies and promote democratization, especially in the Middle East, mirrors the democratization agenda that neocon-controlled think tanks and quasi-governmental institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy have long been advocating. NED, for example, under the leadership of neocon Carl Gershman, has established itself as the international secretariat for the “World Movement for Democracy,” which encompasses an increasing array of international associations of nongovernmental organizations, foundations, academics, and parliamentarians, among others.

NED’s democratization programs and its new role in organizing transnational democracy movements aligned with the United States is part of the neocon strategy to marginalize the United Nations, which in addition to constraining U.S. hegemony has been a consistent critic of Israeli human rights abuses and its violations of international law. Sharansky shares this vision, as he spelled out in his book. According to Sharansky, the United Nations “is a very problematic organization” because it includes countries that are not democratic and because the UN doesn’t make the necessary connection between human rights and freedom. Consequently, “We have to start thinking about creating a parallel to the United Nations, an organization, a United Nations of free societies. And these, in the United Nations of free societies, the question of human rights will not be disengaged from the question of freedom.”

This notion that human rights policy should not shape foreign policy but should be used to support a foreign policy that prioritizes “freedom” has been a consistent theme of neoconservatism since the early 1970s—although until the Cold War’s end the concept of freedom was synonymous with anticommunism. But in Sharansky’s view a commitment to freedom means joining the war on terrorism and tyranny. “In our region,” he says, “we see how [UN] representatives directly cooperate with pro-terrorist organizations.” 17

Sharansky’s concern about human rights abuses in the Middle East is almost exclusively focused on the Palestinians and the Arab countries. According to Sharansky, there can be no withdrawal from Israeli-occupied territories or recognition of a Palestinian estate until Palestinians stop abusing human rights. “I remain convinced,” wrote Sharansky in The Case for Democracy, “that a neighbor who tramples the rights of its own people will eventually threaten the security of my people.” In contrast, Sharansky asserts: “Nothing compares with the unique tolerance of Israeli society.” 18

In a December 2004 review of Sharansky’s new book in the Weekly Standard, Meyrav Wurmser expressed her delight that “one of the great champions of freedom is now influencing the thinking of the most powerful man in the world.” Wurmser, the Israeli-born director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, concludes her homage to Sharansky warning: “Dictators everywhere, take note.” 19 Similarly, William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and the cofounder of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), was elated that the president was praising Sharansky’s book. Days before the Inaugural Address, Kristol wrote that Bush’s enthusiasm for Sharansky’s political philosophy was very “good news” since it indicated that the president was determined to continue his controversial foreign policy in the Middle East during his second term. 20

The close ties between Israeli government officials and Jewish neoconservatives in the Bush administration have sparked concerns that right-wing Zionists are driving the U.S. government’s militarism in the Middle East and its strong support for the Likud hardliners.

Writing in the American Jewish journal Tikkun, Paul Buhle observed: “Hawks would of course be flying without a single Jewish influential on the wing. And yet the ‘Jewish role’ in the think tanks around the White House cannot be dismissed—even if the topic is nearly forbidden from open discussion.” He notes that while some Jewish influence in foreign policy over the past three decades has been positive, “the current situation has not only striking but essentially Jewish connections…some terrifyingly negative.” 21

Meeting of Minds
One of the greatest achievements of the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby has been the creation of an ideological echo chamber in which neocon ideas become common themes in the media and eventually come bouncing back as policy pronouncements by the president and other administration figures. Then the neocon pundits and polemicists outside the administration in institutes like AEI and PNAC applaud the administration for its wise and courageous policies—when in fact those policies came from their own policy blueprints.

Even before the recent state of the union and inaugural addresses, close observers of the president’s pronouncements about Israel and democratization in the Middle East have noticed that Sharansky’s views are echoed—often with the same phrasing—by the president.

As Dana Milbank of the Washington Post observed in a July 2, 2002 article, “By coincidence—or something more—the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan published in the Jerusalem Post on May 3 sounds a lot like the peace proposal Bush delivered in the Rose Garden on June 24.”

Sharansky outlined a seven-point plan that appeared to serve as the briefing points for Bush’s own plan. Sharansky, for example, called for the U.S. to head an “international coordinating body” that would under new Palestinian leadership “develop the infrastructure for democratic life among the Palestinians.” There would also be an “international economic fund” for industrial and infrastructure development. Sharansky called for a “three-year transition period,” while Bush said that a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians “could be reached within three years from now.” Before there can be any serious peace negotiations, insists Sharansky, the Palestinians must first rewrite their charter, school books, and all official documents that deny the legitimacy of Zionism. 22

Like Sharansky, Bush proposed “a major project of economic reform and development” for the Palestinians but only if the Palestinian Authority would prove its democratic credentials and form an “open and free society that is not burdened by fear, hatred, and terror.” In his plan, Sharansky asserted that the project would succeed only if the Palestinians established a “free and open society.” Milbank led his report with the rhetorical question: “Is Natan Sharansky working in the White House speechwriting office?” 23

Bush’s speech announcing that the U.S. government would no longer engage with Yassir Arafat because he wasn’t a democrat came on the heels of an exclusive AEI conference in Beaver Head, Colorado. Sharansky gave the key address, and Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney were there taking notes. Both Wolfowitz and Cheney had been working on the drafts of Bush’s June 24 speech. Sharansky’s core message—dump the region’s dictators and make democracy and other reforms a precondition for peace negotiations—was also the key theme of Bush’s speech. Richard Perle, who invited Sharansky to the forum, said that the decision to drop Arafat was taken shortly before Bush delivered his pro-Likud speech. “Sharansky provided an important bit of last-minute affirmation,” said Perle.

Sharansky met privately with Cheney and Wolfowitz two days before Bush’s Middle East speech. Recalling his hour-plus meeting with Cheney, Sharansky said: “More than half our talk was devoted to what would be said in the speech.” His time with Wolfowitz “gave us a chance to talk about everything—Arafat, international terrorism, Iraq and Iran, and, of course, Jewish history, our roots and so on.” 24 Part of the bond between Sharansky and Wolfowitz is their admiration for “Scoop” Jackson. A few months after he met with Sharansky at the AEI forum, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) honored Wolfowitz with its Jackson Distinguished Service Award. Dick Cheney received the same award from JINSA in 1991.

In Sharansky’s view, Bush’s speech on his new Middle East policy was one of “the two greatest speeches of my lifetime,” the other being Ronald Reagan’s speech casting the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.” 25 26

Channeling Sharansky
After perusing galleys of Sharansky’s book, President Bush invited the Israeli minister for a personal meeting at the White House on November 11, 2004. Following his Oval Office meeting with Sharansky, the president said Sharansky’s political philosophy would be part of both his state of the union and inaugural speeches. 27 Although drafted mainly by Michael Gerson, the State of the Union Address incorporated comments from Elliott Abrams, who has been Sharansky’s ally and friend since the Reagan years, when Abrams directed human rights and Latin American policy.

According to Sharansky’s account of the meeting, he told Bush that he was “a dissident among the leaders of the free world.” He applauded the president for keeping on message “about spreading democracy in the Middle East” despite mounting criticism. “Dissidents,” he said, “focus on ideas. They have a message burning inside of them. They would stand up for their ideas no matter the consequences…You keep on talking about the importance of free societies and free elections.”

Sitting in on the president’s session with Sharansky was Abrams, then special adviser to the president and the National Security Council’s special adviser on Near East and North African Affairs. Like Sharansky, Abrams is a right-wing Zionist close to the Likud party who writes frequently in neoconservative publications like Commentary. Abrams, who has since been promoted to deputy national security adviser in charge of the administration’s global democracy policy, holds policy positions that closely reflect those of Sharansky, including Abrams’ insistence that there can be no peace negotiations or land deals with the Palestinian Authority until certain preconditions are met, including an explicit endorsement of U.S. policy in the Middle East. In addition to his new position at the NSC and as a special assistant to the president, Abrams will oversee the NSC’s Near East and North Africa directorate.

Prior to his hour-plus meeting with President Bush, Sharansky visited 40 minutes with then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. As he walked into Rice’s office, she was holding his new book. “I’m reading it because the president is reading it, and it’s my job to know what the president is thinking.” Joining the meeting with Rice was Sharansky’s coauthor, Ron Dermer.

Dermer was recently named as Israel’s new Minister of Economic Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Dermer has served as an adviser to several Israel corporations. In 1995-1999 Dermer worked under Sharansky as the chief strategist for the Yisrael B’Aliya party. Among other positions, Dermer has been a political commentator at the Jerusalem Post and has served as an economic and political strategic adviser to Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister for Diaspora and Jerusalem Affairs Sharansky. 28

Like the president, Secretary of State Rice has integrated political frameworks articulated by Sharansky into her own pronouncements about the administration’s overall foreign policy and in particular its Middle East policy. At her January confirmation hearing in the Senate, for example, Rice described the world in the dualistic terms used by Sharansky—the division between the fear and free societies. “We cannot rest,” said Rice, “until every person living in a ‘fear society’ has finally won their freedom.”

Bush Saw Democracy Firsthand in Israel
The November session between Sharansky and the president was not the first time that Bush had met Sharansky. On an official visit to Israel in 1998, then-Gov. Bush met with then-Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Industry Minister Sharansky. The Likud government escorted Gov. Bush around the country, visiting weapons manufacturing plants, defense facilities, anti-ballistic missile sites, and industries doing business with Texans. “I saw democracy firsthand in Israel,” said Bush, adding that Israel “is short on natural resources in terms of resources you find in the ground but it’s very long on the most natural resource of all, which is brain power.” According to Bush, who had dinner with Netanyahu and was personally escorted in a helicopter tour of the occupied territories by Sharon, “Israel has got a tremendous amount of talent—smart folks—many of whom have immigrated from Russia.”

Sharansky, one of those immigrants, gave Bush an overview of the existing U.S.-Israeli business relationships and new opportunities, especially in the defense industry. Reflecting on these matters when he returned home, Bush said: “I went and toured the defense facility of Ben Guiron Airport for a couple of reasons. One, I am very interested in looking at Israel’s development of an antiballistic system as well as hearing of their plans for a galaxy airliner that is now being manufactured with the Pitzgzer Family.” 29

U.S-Israel Policy Coherence for Two Chosen People
Sharansky’s philosophy of freedom and fear, good and evil, is a projection of his own political activism. In Israel and across the Middle East, Sharansky is widely regarded as a right-wing Zionist and hawk, who positions himself to the right of Ariel Sharon.

Shortly after Bush’s “axis of evil” address in January 2002, Sharansky at a pro-Israel rally in Washington commended the president for “waging a global battle against Islamic terrorism.” He said that a trinity of countries in the Middle East—Iran, Iraq, and Syria—were the ones that constituted an axis of evil confronting Israel.

The coherence between the Likud party’s agenda and that of the Bush administration was clearly on display at the December 2004 “Herzliya Conference on National Strength and Security in Israel,” which featured Sharansky and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sharansky expressed his elation about the prospects for Israel’s regional agenda, noting that the reelection of Bush was even more auspicious than the death of Arafat, who Sharansky had repeatedly dismissed as a “murderer” and “terrorist.” Sharansky said that President Bush shared his own belief that there could be no peace in the Middle East and resolution of the Palestinian issue until the Arab world adopted economic and political reforms in line with those promoted by the Bush administration and the Likud party.

Like Sharansky, Netanyahu endorsed the new Bush Doctrine that insisted that democratization must precede peace negotiations in the Middle East—a roadmap to peace that the right-wing and neoliberal Likud leader called an antidote to the Oslo peace process. Like U.S. neoconservatives, Sharansky and Netanyahu frequently liken Bush’s plan to end tyranny and promote democracy to the U.S. foreign policy in Japan and Germany following the Allied victory in World War II. “It will take even longer here,” said Netanyahu, a close political ally of Sharansky, “yet it is the same process.” 30

Both the United States and Israel have much in common, according to Sharansky. One of the links, he said in a speech at a forum sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, which was the basis for an article in Commentary, the journal of the American Jewish Committee, is the spreading scourge of anti-Semitism. “Anti-Americanism in the Islamic world and anti-Americanism in Europe are in fact linked,” argued Sharansky, because “both bear an uncanny resemblance to anti-Semitism.” In this essay entitled “On Hating Jews,” Sharansky wrote: “America embodies a different—a nonconforming—idea of the good, and refuses to abandon its moral clarity about the objective worth of that idea.”

Moreover, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Sharansky believes that “Israel and the Jewish people share something essential with the United States.” According to Sharansky, The Jews have long held that they were chosen to play a special role in history, to be what their prophets called “a light unto nations”….It is similar with the United States—a nation that has long regarded itself as entrusted with a mission to be what John Winthrop in the 17th century called “a city on a hill” and Ronald Reagan in the 20th century parsed as a “shining city on a hill.” 31

(Tom Barry is policy director of the International Relations Center, online at http://www.irc-online.org, and author of numerous books on international relations. He directs the IRC’s Right Web program.)

See the IRC's Right Web Profiles:
Elliott Abrams
Richard Cheney
Douglas Feith
William Kristol
Richard Perle
Natan Sharansky
Paul Wolfowitz
Meyrav Wurmser
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
Middle East Forum

End Notes
Natan Sharansky, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror (Public Affairs, 2004)
Elisabeth Bumiller, “Bush Book Club Picks a New Favorite,” New York Times, January 31, 2005
Bumiller, New York Times, January 31, 2005
Natan Sharansky, “Peace Will Only Come after Freedom and Democracy,” Middle East Quarterly, November 24, 2004
“Natan Sharansky,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 3, 2003
One Jerusalem
Steven Erlanger, “A Compliment Sharansky Can’t Refuse,” New York Times, February 2, 2005
Harry Kreisler ,“Conversation with Natan Sharansky,” Institute of International Studies, April 16, 2004
Natan Sharansky, “Tour of U.S. Schools Reveals Why Zionism is Flunking on U.S. Campuses,” First published in Ma’ariv, and translated from Hebrew for The Forward, October 24, 2003
Lee Kaplan, “Diplomat of Democracy: Natan Sharansky,” FrontPagemagazine.com, May 3, 2004
“Message from Natan Sharansky,” Israel Citizens Information Council
“Message from Natan Sharansky,” Israel Citizens Information Council
Lee Kaplan, “Diplomat of Democracy: Natan Sharansky,” FrontPagemagazine.com, May 3, 2004
For a good journalistic treatment of the connections between Jewish neocons and Senator Jackson in the 1970s, see: Paul Buhle, “The Civil Liberties Crisis and the Threat of ‘Too Much Democracy,’” Tikkun, May/June 2003
Michael Hirsh, “Closing the Neocon Circle: George W. Bush has unveiled a new vision for U.S. foreign policy. His inspiration: Natan Sharansky,” Newsweek, Web Exclusive, January 25, 2005
“Speeches from the 2002 Pro Israel Washington Rally,” National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel
“The Power of Democracy,” Morton B. Zuckerman interviews Natan Sharansky, Council on Foreign Relations, November 9, 2004
Lee Kaplan, “Diplomat of Democracy: Natan Sharansky,” FrontPagemagazine.com, May 3, 2004
Meyrav Wurmser, “Democracy Defended,” Weekly Standard, December 6, 2004
William Kristol, “Honoring Democracy,” Weekly Standard, January 24, 2005
Paul Buhle, “The Civil Liberties Crisis and the Threat of ‘Too Much Democracy,’” Tikkun, May/June 2003
Gerald Steinberg, “Sharansky’s Zionism,” The Canadian Jewish News, August 7, 1998
Dana Milbank, “A Sound Bite So Good, the President Wishes He Had Said It,” Washington Post, July 2, 2002
Dan Ephron and Tamara Lipper, “Sharansky’s Quiet Role,” MSNBC, July 8, 2002
Natan Sharansky, “Peace Will Only Come after Freedom and Democracy,” Middle East Forum
“President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership,” White House, June 24, 2002
Bumiller, New York Times, January 31, 2005
Zeev Klein, “Ron Dermer named Israel economic attaché to Washington,” Globes, Israeli Business News online, January 4, 2005
“Governor George W. Bush On His Trip to Israel,” Press Office of Governor Bush, December 3, 1998
Gary Rosenblatt, “Red States in the Middle East,” Jewish Current Issues, December 24, 2004
Natan Sharansky, “On Hating Jews,” Commentary, Novemeber 2003

Published by the Right Web Program at the International Relations Center (IRC). ©2005. All rights reserved.

Recommended citation:
Tom Barry, “Natan Sharansky and George W. Bush: The Foreign Policy Diaspora—From Jerusalem to Washington,” IRC Right Web (Silver City, NM: International Relations Center, February 8, 2005).

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Writer: Tom Barry, IRC
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